Friday, August 15, 2008

Hitman Two this is Hitman Two Actual

Oh how I am loving Generation Kill. Ed Burns + HBO = good television.

Set during the initial push into Iraq by US forces, the show follows a group of Recon Marines in the middle of one of our country's greatest clusterfucks. You know, I think the military first coined the word "clusterfuck," but... This is one of those portrayals of the Iraq situation where you watch and hope to god that things really weren't (aren't) like that. But in the back of your head you kind of know the truth is closer than the fiction, and that's a bit numbing. I really, really hope things were (are) not like that. Not that I know any better than the other guy about how often soldiers to break into song to pass the endless hours of desert driving, which is something we can more easily relate to than the level of ineptitude suggested in some instances of top level command. We as citizens have to place a large amount of blind faith in the armed forces, tho I can see how ignorance remains bliss.

There is also some really cool Alpha Bravo military combat stuff which I have to say is awesome. The story shows combat from a couple different angles. There is the intense, first-person perspective as the unit engages as the mission unfolds. Cool shots of ATVs cruising in unison with gun's-a-blazing, wicked night-vision combat with tracers. Then there is the passive combat that happens perpetually around, well, everything. Explosions, nightime drumbeats of distant bombings, and tank divisions rolling by during downtime. Sometimes military life certainly seems to be its own, alien world.

Now what scares me about the show is this: none of the main characters have died in battle. Yet. By this point of the show we are really getting to know these Marines and I have to say I'm getting kind of attached. The Iraq War is merely the framework of this character-driven drama. But the reality is Marines or not, this is a war and in a war... soldiers die. Compounded by the fact that the Marines are based on actual soldiers I can only be wary of heartbreak ahead. Fictional attributations aside, these are men who have served or are still serving in Iraq and abroad. They are sons, brothers, and friends, it is a great tragedy to have one of those lives lost. The hook of Generation Kill partly revolves around a reporter embedded in the Marine unit (who them wrote a book about it, that the show is based on). Most of the story is relayed through him to us-- and obviously he got to know these Marines over time as we are while watching now. Having not read the book I don't know the ultimate fate of the unit's members, but like I said, this is war. And HBO always brings down the hammer.

Evan Wright, the reporter, was right there in the desert. But I am detached, very far away, and it is hard to not care. But then that's the whole point of it all, right?

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